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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Letters to my Grandmother

(My dear grandmother had just passed away. Since then, I received many kind messages from friends around the world expressing their condolences, they have my utmost gratitude. The next few posts in this blog will be about my grandma. Because I needed to remember. Here's a photo trip through memory lane with my Grandmother.)

On the day before her funeral, my cousins and I decided to each write a letter to Grandmother and paste it on the wall next to her casket.

Letters to grandma

A letter from Cousin Mun Yoong and his wife, along with 2 year old Adrian. Adrian is Grandma's eldest great-grandson.

Letters to Grandma by Cousin Mun Yoong and his wife, along with their son Adrian (grandma's eldest great grandson)

My translation:

I'm not your smartest nor your most obedient grandson, not even the most handsome. Yet in my heart you are the most important to me. I will always remember every Sunday when you bring me to the Pasar (market) for grocery shopping, or coming out to defend me whenever dad was about to spank me, just to prevent me from the pain. Each of these memories felt just like yesterday, and they will remain within the vault of my memories forever. My love and respect for you will not diminish at all as I will keep you within my heart. I wish that once you are in Nirvana, you can see us, your children and grandchildren, and continue smiling.

From Mun Yoong


I love you. Great-grandma.

From Adrian


Although we have only spent a few short years together, your passing had filled me with a lot of sorrow. As I recited my prayers for you, I believe you have followed the great Buddha to Nirvana, accepting his wisdom and his teachings, bathed in the light of his blessing. Free from the coils of mortality and the painful cycle of life. To know that you are in good hands allow us a lot of comfort, I will always remember your smile.

From Vivian (wife of Mun Yoong)

Letters from Cousin Mun Kin and his wife, and Cousin Carmen.

Letters to grandma by Cousin Mun Kin (and wife) and Cousin Carmen

My translations:

Dear Grandma,

There is nothing more painful than losing a family member. The love you have given me, every single drop of it, I will pass it to the following generations.

From Mun Kin and Wife (Chriz)


Dear Grandma,

Amitabha. I believe you are now at Nirvana, watching us with a smile. What you have left us are countless valuable memories and happiness. You will always be my role model.

From Carmen

Letters from Cousins Foo Keong, Pui Kuan and Foo Seng.

Letters to grandma by Cousin Foo Keong, Cousin Pui Kuan and Cousin Foo Seng

Since Foo Keong and Foo Seng both wrote in English, I'll translate Pui Kuan's part only.


To me you were like a magician, conjuring endless joy, surprises and tears for us all. And also taught me invaluable lessons of life. I will always remember this.

From Pui Kuan

From Cousins Jun Xiong and Jun Qi.

Letters to grandma by Cousins Jun Xiong and Jun Qi

My translation:

Dear Grandma,

I believe you are on your journey to Nirvana.
All my life, you were my only grandmother I knew. My impressions of your loving concern are deep. Right now, I find it difficult to let you go.
This tiny paper isn't enough to contain everything I want to say to you, you will always live in my heart.

From Jun Xiong


Dear Grandma,

The memories that are spinning before me now aren't that many, but each of them is precious. I will always remember you. I love you, rest in peace.

From Jun Qi

Letters from Cousins Sheng Jie, Sheng Fei and Wen Xin.

Letters to grandma by Cousins Sheng Jie, Sheng Fei and Wen Xin

My translation:

To my beloved grandma,

Please go on your journey without any worries. We will take care of ourselves. Just put aside your doubts. You will always live in our hearts. Safe journey.

From Sheng Jie


To my beloved grandma,

What you have left for us are beautiful memories. Memories burnt deeply into my mind. Safe journey.

From Sheng Fei


To my beloved grandma,

Your kind smile will always leave a print within my heart. Grandma, I will always miss you, safe journey.

From Wen Xin

Letters from Cousins Lip Pin, Yang, Tseng Qhi and Jade.

Letter to grandma by Cousins Lip Pin, Yang, Tseng Qhi and Jade

Letters from Cousins Fung Ming and Hing Yip.

Letters to grandma by Cousins Fung Ming and Hing Yip

My translation:

(Cousin Fung Ming's letter is a poem of sorts)

Dear Grandma,

Your passing had filled our hearts with pain,
Memories shared together forever I retain,
Loving you, thinking of you, missing you.

From Fung Ming


Dear Grandma,

Your passing had caused my heart to struggle with agony. I am sad because you have left us. But happy that you are liberated too. I will bury your joyous smile within my heart. I wish, in our next lives, I can still be your grandchild.
Goodbye, Grandma!

From Hing Yip

From Cousins Kian Tat and Kian Lap (we usually call these two brothers Kampolo and Nganpolo, which means "Golden Pineapple" and "Silver Pineapple"

Letters to grandma by Cousins Kian Tat and Kian Lap

Kian Tat's one is a traditional Chinese poem, it's difficult for me to translate. I'll try.

Grandmother and Grandchild now walk opposite directions,
Be it in the sky or on mortal land I still love you,
Watching the moon brings me tears,
But as you return home in 3 nights, our hearts remain as one.

From Kian Tat


Dear Grandma,

I love you. Have a safe journey.

From Kian Lap

A letter from Cousin Raymond.

Letter to grandma by cousin Raymond

A letter from my house helper, Susan. Susan had been with us for almost 20 years, so she's like part of family, and naturally, my grandmother was family to her as well.

Letters to grandma by Susan

And finally, one particular letter I wanted to single out was Ani's. Ani is an Indonesian girl who had been taking care of my grandmother in the last 3 years of her life. As her Alzheimer's had gotten progressively worse, Ani remained by her side without fail. I have nothing but gratitude towards what Ani had done for my grandmother. Even in my grandmother's last few days, Ani had slept in the hospital too to accompany her.

This is a letter by Ani, written in Indonesian and then translated to Chinese.

Letter to grandma by Ani

My translation:


I hope you are now standing beside the Lord and being blessed. I will always remember you no matter what. I love you, popoh, I love you. Whenever I miss you, I will think of the times when we are together in this house. I remember your smile.

Safe journey,

Finally, letters from my sister and I.

Letters to grandma by my sister and I

My translation of my sister's letter and mine:

Dear Grandma,

All is beyond words.



Dear Grandma,

Don't forget the friends and family who had loved you, because we won't forget you at all. Safe journey.


On the day of her funeral, before we went to the crematorium with Grandma. Cousin Carmen and Ani burned those letters, hoping that these words will go with Grandma as well.

Burning a letter to Grandmother

Cousin Carmen and Ani burning the letters to Grandmother